Thursday, March 20, 2008

a double toast!

My dear readers, I bring to you another wonderful news! Just the other day, we received a substantial funding commitment to pilot our Virtual Classroom in at least 20 schools in and around Hyderabad.

Which means about a few hundred students will be able to interact with the best teachers from around the world and also experience the enticing audio visuals we have in store for them.

It also means that after the Easter holidays, we get started with short listing the schools and screening the teachers. And in a couple of weeks we’ll begin their training.

Heck! That sounds like a lot of work! But hang on, with some dancing and celebration over the weekend, we will be back all refreshed and geared up. :)

I’ll be popping up here soon with more news on our progress so do check on us.

Happy Easter,

Life is beautiful :)

Good news!

Woo! We did it! It’s finally done! We present to you our Virtual Classroom. And we are back to being happy people--. Ever since the day we had our EFF pre alpha release in our office, our lives changed. At least temporarily: we worked and ate at our desk, we put a hold to our salon and parlor visits, we fought, we made up and some nights we had to walk home coz by the time we stepped out of our office, the cabs had retreated to their respective garages.

Even with our sunken eyes we can’t stop smiling. That’s the effect our babe VC has on us. Yesterday, while I was testing the whiteboard, I created a lesson for my students. It was just a test but I wanted to feel like I was using it. And it’s now uploaded in my slide library. When I saw myself in the video, I quite liked what I saw—for once I didn’t have much to complain about. The quality is awesome—I’m considering using it as a substitute for a mirror. ;)

Most of you are aware of our journey with EFF and will certainly feel our enthusiasm and excitement. This means a lot to us because it's going to make a difference to a lot of children out there who have never experienced what education is. It took us half a year to research, plan and finally execute!

As we share the good news, do check out the develper version of our VC on our website. It is available in the Moodle community too. We have put it up for you because we value your suggestions. Do drop us a line about your experience.

We hope you’ll like it and thanks for cheering us along the way.

P.S

We will be releasing the beta version on the 14th of April.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

An island of learning

Some of my friends snigger at me when I tell them that I loved my school. But I did and no sniggering stops me from emphasizing that fact. :) As I think of it—it was mostly because of my teachers--simple but dedicated—who ensured that we were taught with enthusiasm.
I honestly liked everything about my school—my teachers, the tests and exams, the extracurricular competitions, sports week and morning assembly…all of it.
Come to think of it--even the textbooks I used were old—handed down from my sister who was a year ahead of me. I remember repairing the books since they had dog-eared pages, some books were torn, pages in the middle had come loose, and there was plenty of scribbling and underlining done in all of them.
It actually surprises me now that I willingly and lovingly used those textbooks. In fact, I remember the cold winter afternoons when I would sit on the wooden floor with a cup of tea, wrapped in a sweater and a muffler and cover them with used white calendars because the textbook covers were usually torn and lost. I would write the name of the subject and my name with a marker.
I did not have access to any fancy educational material apart from those textbooks but the effort with which my teachers taught me with whatever little they had gave me access to a whole wide world. I remember one teacher in particular who taught the class what an island was. He filled a shallow plate with water and placed a slab of stone covered with moss and told us that that patch of “land” was an island and corrected us when we pronounced island with an “s”. That’s when I learned about silent letters.
They always insisted that each of us will in our own way become “great” someday. I may not have become ‘that great someone’ I wanted to, but it’s because of my teachers that I today value education and the life that comes with it.
So with my old textbooks, some motivated teachers, and lots of encouragement, I learned well, and more importantly with enthusiasm and enjoyment. What really made the difference for me was that I always had good, committed teachers who could enthuse me and get me to focus on learning in every class.
I am convinced that without a teacher to help you relate to your lessons and to the textbooks, even the keenest child would find her enthusiasm wavering. And that a good teacher can turn even dull textbooks into precious learning resources. And this is the reason for our sense of urgency regarding this severe shortage of teachers in our schools today, and our desire to do something about it.

Mid Day Meal scheme--food for the hungry or fodder for the money mongers?

Most of us are aware that Mid Day meal scheme has started to show results. There is a wide increase of children attending school now. (Read Government schools) After all, Education will definitely taste better when you don't go hungry. However, this scheme doesn't go free of controversies. A story ran by indiatogether.org caught my attention...looks like corrupted political leaders are 'eating' through the plates of these hungry little children. And this definitely will not be the last story... after all, with over US$1.9 billion funding running the show, more private pockets will be filled at the expense of millions of malnourished, starving children.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

CLF

Center For Learning is an alternative school that believes in giving an all round development to a child. Started by a group of educationist, it has been extremely successful over the years. They have around 30 students with half of them as fee-paying and the rest as sponsored students. Their work looks very interesting and I would like to meet them one of these days. They also bring out a journal called Edu-Care where they discuss issues on education. In their own words:

A Forum for education concerns Quarterly Magazine in English. Edu-care takes up a specific theme in each issue related to education such as "play", "competition" and "culture" and analyses them to great depths. The articles are from CFL members as well as from readers. Discussion threads on topics from previous issues are also published.

Check out their website for details.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Planning to plan

According to this news report, the Human Resource Minister Arjun Singh plans to make a law to provide 'Free and Compulsory' education to children aged between 6-14 years. In India, where illiteracy is rampant, poor aplenty, the policy, if actually planned and implemented, will be like manna from heaven! Let's keep our fingers crossed.

Human Resource Development Minister Arjun Singh said today that one of the most critical aspects of social development is education.

He said, "Even the most impressive and robust economic progress is rendered meaningless if social development lags behind"

Singh said he plans to make a law to provide free and compulsory education to the age group of 6 to 14 years.